Written by guest author N.P.Burggraaff

Working up a sweat can feel great, especially if you have trained really hard. However, it is also very important to keep hydrated before, during and after your workout. Dehydration during your workout can easily decrease your performance in a very significant way. This goes for all sports whether you're performing an endurance sport, winter sports, water sports or weightlifting.

There is a big market that wants to encourage you to buy their colorful, flavorful sports and energy drinks. Companies market their products as essential and claim that these products will boost your endurance and performance. Below you will discover why it is so important to replenish your body with water and when is best to use sports drinks.

The dangers of dehydration

Approximately 65% of the human body is made up of water. In one workout session we can lose up to a whopping 3 liters of water. We can start experiencing dehydration symptoms by losing as little as 3% of water. Humans can go without food for up to 8 weeks provided that they have water to hydrate themselves. When it comes to water, we would only last between 3 and 6 days without drinking. Lack of water has an impact on your body and mind. Even the slightest dehydration can affect your mood and make you feel down due to the fact that 85% of your brain is water.



Sweat is your body's way of regulating your body temperature and keeping cool. We sweat excessively during exercise due to your body temperature increasing. If you are dehydrated, you won't be able to sweat as much and your body may become overheated with risks of nausea, fainting or even feeling overly exhausted. This is why it is so important to stay very well hydrated, especially during activities that will increase your body temperature and make you sweat.

Drinking water and exercising

It's best to start drinking an hour or two before your workout. If you begin exercising and you start to feel dehydrated, this will have a negative impact on your performance. Drinking during exercise is recommended as it enables you to keep on sweating and keeping your body cool. It is advised to drink between 5 and 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes.

The difference between water and sports drinks

There are so many sports drinks on the market that want you to believe that your performance will dramatically increase when you use their drinks. Is this true? Not necessarily! What you might not know about these colorful looking drinks is that they are very high in sugar. Sugar can give you that instant rush which is beneficial momentarily, but at the same time, after a sugar rush, you can feel extremely tired. Also, consuming a lot of sugar will cause weight gain and this is something people avoid when following a fitness program.

On the other hand, some sports nutritionists recommend using sports drinks over water when you are exercising very intensively. They prefer sports drinks over water because water doesn't contain (enough) sodium. Sodium helps the human body retain water and get it to the right places. Another argument that they use for choosing a sports drink over water is that the flavor keeps you motivated to keep on drinking and staying hydrated.

The bottom line

It's always best to predetermine what kind of workout you will be doing and then to decide which drink to use. If it is going to be a long and hard workout demanding a lot of endurance (ie, a marathon) then it might be a good idea to use a sports drink to replenish your body with energy. If you are exercising for up to an hour, then water is more than enough to keep you hydrated and energized.

Make sure you read nutrition labels to know exactly which ingredients are in a sports drink. If you get bored with regular water, you could always add some mint leaves and lemon in your water bottle to make it more flavorful.

Click here to learn more about water and liquid calories.